The United States has made significant progress in cleaning up our environment since the first Earth Day in 1970. We’ve passed landmark legislation like the Clean Air Act and brought new energy technologies to market. But sadly, our country now faces unprecedented attacks on this landmark environmental achievement from the same party whose President, Richard Nixon, signed the Clean Air Act.

One of the most egregious attacks is H.R. 910, a ‘Dirty Air Act’ recently offered by House Republicans to prohibit EPA from taking action to control greenhouse gas emissions. I worked to mitigate the damaging effects of this bill by offering an amendment – passed with bipartisan support – to ensure that voluntary programs to reduce carbon emissions can continue.

I also proposed a second amendment to ensure that this bill will not harm the most vulnerable among us – America’s seniors and children, particularly children with asthma and lung disease. My son and daughter each developed asthma after moving to an area of California with poor air quality, so I know firsthand how important clean, fresh air is for our kids. Unfortunately, blind partisanship prevented this commonsense amendment from being adopted.

H.R. 910 is likely just the start of attacks on longstanding environmental protections that are to come from the Republican majority. Their new agenda seems to reflect a belief that we must accept damaging exploitation of the environment to create jobs. This belief is sad and unfortunate because the opposite is true: a clean environment is necessary for a healthy economy.

The future of our economy, our national security, and our environment depend on the choices we make today. Being overly dependent on fossil fuels threatens all three of these goals. I believe we must renew our commitment to a healthy earth and enact policies that will create a sustainable economy and a clean, healthy environment. It is critical to take concrete steps now – like extending renewable energy tax credits and enacting a clean energy standard to spur investments in renewable energy resources.

Fortunately, the United States is a creative and innovative country, and much of the technology we need is already at hand. With the right policies in place, we can harness the power of cutting edge renewable energy technologies and invest in energy efficiency – while creating millions of new jobs in the process.

A personal anecdote might help illuminate this point. I saw the wind energy technology I spent my career developing move overseas because our foreign competitors enacted policies to encourage their utility companies to buy renewable energy. Those countries now export wind turbines to the United States. These are real jobs that were lost for American workers. I will do whatever I can to prevent that from happening again.

That’s why I have fought to make sure that we invest in scientific research, in STEM education, and in programs that encourage the large-scale development of clean energy technology. Although we cannot eliminate our use of fossil fuel energy sources overnight, we can make quick and steady progress. Unless we become energy efficient and transition to using other domestic sources of clean energy, our economy will always be at the mercy of the international oil market.

On this Earth Day, let’s remember what is at stake and recommit ourselves to making the right decisions for our children and grandchildren.